Revised Constitution at the heart of the John Lewis Partnership launches

Tuesday 25 July 2017



The John Lewis Partnership has published the latest edition of its Constitution, which defines the industrial democracy that operates at the heart of the UK's largest employee-owned business.

Instead of having external shareholders, all 86,700 Partners are co-owners, receiving a share of the company's profits and having a say in how the business is run. This is through a robust system of elected representatives who hold management to account.

This process of industrial democracy is defined in the Constitution, originally written by the Partnership's Founder John Spedan Lewis in 1928. His unique vision meant that a year later he founded the Partnership by beginning the transfer of the company into a Trust, through the first of two trust settlements, for the benefit of employees.

Jane Barnett-Roberts, Head of Democratic Engagement, said: 'The Constitution embodies employee ownership at the John Lewis Partnership. Dating back nearly 90 years, the Constitution, and the democratic vitality it supports, lies at the heart of the Partnership. It uniquely defines what we are and how we do business in every Waitrose and John Lewis shop, in our offices and at our distribution and manufacturing facilities across the country." 

The Constitution - then and now

The first edition of the Constitution ran to 293 pages and was printed as a hard-bound book. Today's Constitution, published both online and in booklet form, is far more concise, running to 31 pages. It is in two sections - Principles and Rules. The Principles set out how the Partnership should operate, covering purpose, power, profit, members, customers, business relationships and the community. The Rules help shape how the Principles are brought to life by defining how power is shared, Partners' rights, and our responsibilities to others, including our suppliers.

The Constitution is updated regularly and this latest edition refers to the newly formed Executive Team. Headed by Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield, it brings together the Managing Directors of Waitrose and John Lewis, the Group Finance Director, Group Development Director, Director of Personnel, Group Productivity & Change Director, and the General Counsel & Company Secretary. 

Employee-owned companies driving the economy

The John Lewis Partnership is part of the growing employee-owned sector of the economy. According to the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), there are more than 300 employee owned businesses employing more than 200,000 people in the UK. These businesses contribute £30bn annually to UK GDP.

EOA research shows that employee-owned businesses are more productive than average, increasing productivity by 4.5% last year, against flat productivity growth in the rest of the UK economy.

Notes to editors

The John Lewis Partnership operates 48 John Lewis shops across the UK,, 354 Waitrose shops, and business to business contracts in the UK and abroad. The business has annual gross sales of over £11bn. It is the UK's largest example of an employee-owned business where all 86,700 staff are Partners in the business.


For more information please contact:

Sarah Henderson
Group Senior Communications Manager
Telephone: 07764 676 036